Stand Out By Asking These Questions During Your On-Site Interview
“So, do you have any questions for me?”
Just about every interview these days ends with this softball question, and the answer should always be an emphatic “Yes, I’m glad you asked.”
By the time you’ve reached the on-site interview portion, you’ve shown your strengths are aligned with the company’s needs. Now, it’s your turn to see if the company’s strengths are aligned with your needs. The next opportunity you take shouldn’t just be measured by the increase in your paycheck. To make sure you’re making a positive career move, you need to consider the team, growth opportunity, and company mission. The “do you have any questions for me” portion of the interview is your best shot to do it.
Before you go on-site, the recruiter will give you a list of people you’ll be interviewing with (if they don’t, ask for it!). Take time to look each person up and get a sense of their background. You may have things in common, and a little rapport can go a long way. As you research each individual, be mindful of which one is best served to answer the various questions you have about the company and the role.
“But Saba, I haven’t found any cool companies I want to interview with!” Why didn’t ya say so sooner? Head here to get crackin’.
To complete your interview question list, here are 10 questions we’ve noticed are not only effective for gathering important information, but will prove to the team you’re curious about the company and thoughtful in your decision making.
What are the hardest parts of the job?
You’ll want to gain insights around whether there are roadblocks you’re signing up for if you do take the gig. If there are, it’s not necessarily a bad thing – as a candidate you just want to make sure you’re not blindsided after accepting the role. If individual contributors point out these challenges early in the process, you’ll have an opportunity to ask the team lead or other management how they intend to help you clear those roadblocks.
How does this role contribute to business goals?
Whether you’re interviewing for an IC or manager role, you’ll want to understand how your performance will be measured. Will it be tied to historical metrics, or will they shift depending on company benchmarks? Ask about stakeholders who are equally invested in the metrics you will be responsible for. The answer to this question will shed light on how strategic the role is to the company, as well as how the work you do will be assessed.
How often are reviews conducted?
Although reviews can be at times be stressful, it’s valuable to document performance. As a best practice, many companies conduct reviews twice a year, and have a 360 review process built in. A regular performance review process means you’ll have to opportunity to calibrate on your own progression, and will give you a channel to provide feedback on the higher-ups as well.
What does success in this role look like over the next six months?
How thoughtful is the company being about this role? Is there a clear vision for how they will contribute, or is it a choose-your-own-adventure type deal? Are there previous examples of individuals in this role achieving success? This question will give you some background into the potential of the role, and should you accept, will tell you exactly what you need to do to impress some folks.
Why did you decide to work here?
This question is designed to be open ended. Were they focused on the opportunity to grow in an exciting role? Was it the manager’s impressive experience and character they wanted to work with? Do they feel personally invested in the company’s mission, and empowered to make a dent in the world? The goal here is to get someone to drop the interview facade and be candid about how they themselves assessed the opportunity to work at this company.
How does the company invest in the team?
If you are investing a portion of your career with this company, you want to feel like they are doing the same. One of the most effective ways of doing so, outside of career pathing, is giving you a budget/stipend for online classes, conferences, etc. Different organizations go about this in a variety of ways, and the endgame with this question is to see if they are set up to help you grow in the areas you’d like to develop. Pro-tip: If it’s a small company, and there is no formal policy, this is a potential area for negotiation.
Are teams encouraged to work cross functionally?
Without the right systems in place, it’s easy for people to get caught up with their own team’s goals, without looping in other teammates to ensure work is optimized and not duplicated. No one is going to answer this question with an unequivocal “no, teams are not encouraged to work together,” so try and get your interviewers to give you specific examples.
For those who don’t report into leadership, are there skip level meetings?
Skip levels are becoming an increasingly popular way to ensure leadership has visibility down the pyramid and employees have an opportunity to share ideas and feedback with key decision makers. Ideally, you are having a skip level once a month or once a quarter, so suss out if this is a practice the organization is keen on.
Whatever it is you’re curious about, make sure you take full advantage of this part of the interview process. You won’t have any better time to assess at a meaningful, personal level whether the role is for you. And for extra credit, here’s a bunch more questions you can consider throwing in.
-Is this a new role, or have you hired for it before?
-What made you realize you needed to create this role?
-What happened with the last person in this role?
–Do you have any doubts about my qualifications for the role?
–How does hiring for this role help you in your day-to-day?